How do I keep my cat’s immune system in top shape?

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A cat’s immune system helps fight off bacteria, viruses, microbes and toxins. If this immune system is weakened, your cat might be at risk. Luckily, there are a few ways to keep your cat healthy by boosting her immune system. While proper nutrition is a major component of boosting immunity, we need to remember that food isn’t just what’s in the bowl; like humans, cats are also fed by things like exercise and play—and they, too, play an important role in immunity.
• Food: In this tough economy, many try to stay within budgets by purchasing inexpensive pet food. This is false savings, however, because cats will eat to meet their nutritional requirements; therefore, a cat may eat twice as much of a carbohydrate-laden inexpensive food than a more expensive but balanced one. The second reason is that prolonged eating of a poor diet results in health problems and astronomical vet bills. Therefore, feed your cat a well-balanced food that includes a named protein, such as meat, fish, or poultry; vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids; taurine, an essential amino acid; water. You might also look for a food that contains probiotics, which are beneficial to your cat’s gut and, hence, the immune system; over 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut.
• Water: Water makes up to 80 percent of your cat’s body, and is necessary for all his biological processes, including circulation, digestion and waste removal; yet, they aren’t thirst-driven, so you’ll need to help it along. Many cats prefer flowing water, so consider buying a water drinking fountain that keeps the liquid circulating.
• Exercise and play: Cats are known for sleeping a lot, which can cause them to put on weight. If your cat likes to lounge a bit too much, entice her to exercise by playing with her. Pull a string around the house for her to chase, or throw a favorite ball up the stairs for her to run after. Keeping your cat moving and at a healthy weight will help boost her immunity.
• Stress: Like humans, stress can weaken a feline’s immune system so keep her happy and relaxed by making sure she has plenty of food and water, as well as toys and affection. Cats also like routine, so set a specific feeding schedule your cat can count on.

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